Agamemnon was the king of Greece during the Trojan Wars and led the armies of a unified nation to the foreign shores of Troy in order to recapture Helen. In this abstract game you actually play as one of the Greek gods with a vested interest in the conflict. You have warriors, leaders and some other special pieces and will be placing them on a board in order to try and control the strings of fate and turn the tide of the conflict in your favour.
This game was a total surprise to me. I think I own a grand total of one other abstract game [The Duke, by Catalyst Games] and whilst I love it, we just don’t play it that often. All the things I like about that game are present in this one, it plays quickly, it’s deeply strategic, but within a framework so you don’t sit there with analysis paralysis for three hours trying to figure out your moves. The Designer Günter Cornett made a simple, balanced game that plays in as little as 15 minutes, and as many as 25! Seriously, I cannot stress how quick the game is whilst still being rewarding. There are two sides to the board, which was a nice bonus, there’s a set board which is nice for learning the game, and a second side of the board called the Loom that allows for a randomized set up with up to 20 possibilities.
This is a strictly 2 player game in which turns are taken drawing two of their face down pieces and then laying them out on the board. The aim of the game is to control the highest number of the ‘strings of fate’ [the connecting lines] of which there are three different types that have varying stipulations of control.
Once both players have placed all of their pieces then you score the board and players claim the strings of fate that they control and whoever has the biggest pile of them wins! I’m always a fan of such simplicity, especially when that simplicity facilitates strategy, rather than dumbing a game down, and this game can get very tight very quickly which always feels great.
The strings of fate fall into 3 different categories. The red ones showing spears are collected if you have the highest number of spears on warrior tiles and leader tiles that are connected to that particular chain. The cream coloured leadership chains are won by the single highest leader connected to the chain. Ties are won by nobody and all of those chains are placed back in the box. This makes placement of your strongest leaders important. Do you want to guarantee a good haul of strings, or block your opponent from getting a big string and expending your best leader that way. And finally the orange force strings are won by simply have the highest number of tokens of your color connected to that chain.
No complaints here. The reason it’s not a 5 is that the player pieces are ever so slightly thinner than I’d like them to be, especially based on how much use they will get used. But honestly I’m just nit picking. The board is double sided and has a great aesthetic, the Loom side has a blue hued background that is just gorgeous and reminds me of the landing of the thousand Greek ships. I also really appreciate it when game companies do things like provide baggies to store the pieces in the box, as well as providing spare tokens, which Osprey Games does a fantastic job of doing.
This scores really high for me because it ticks all of my personal boxes. The mechanics are as simple as draw and place your pieces. There are two different special action pieces that each player has which help to manipulate the board, but there’s not too much. The mechanics in this game facilitate depth of strategy. There’s very little to commit to memory so you can just jump right in and get the game played. The rules book isn’t arduous, it’s barely three pages long. Love, love, love how playable this game is right out of the box.
The game is very short and your strategy becomes important very quickly, the board is tight and your opponent will likely see everything that you see. The first turn or two are more like putting out feelers and going for the strings of whatever you draw, but once both players have two or three pieces down the game becomes extremely tense and very gripping. If it’s any help I lost both games we played by one point a piece, so it’s very balanced, but placement is extremely important, there’s almost zero wasted placements. Having said that I found on my very last turn that the board was filled and placing my last piece had nearly no impact on the game, so every so often that kind of deadlock can happen.
After we set up the first game I was worried that the board was static and wouldn’t change that therefore the game would get tiresome after a few plays. However the flip side of the board has up to 20 configurations and that means there’s a lot of different ways that the game can look. This game is one that as soon as we were done I wanted to play again, so we did. It’s a great game that begs to be played again and again. I do worry that if I were to play it a lot I might get tired of the game, but that’s why I don’t exclusively play just one game. So whenever I get these types of games out they’re still fresh and new.
Final Thoughts 16/20
This game is really fun. Straight up. We had a blast playing it and it’s not the kind of game I usually go for, so for me it was a diamond in the rough, and it’s one hell of a diamond. MY only other beef, and I think this is because it’s an abstract game, is that I didn’t feel like it had great theme. Thematic games are something that I hold dear to my heart, and frankly this is not one of them. But I’m more than happy to lay that aside because this game is extremely engaging and the production value is great. It’s tight and requires thought, but it’s quick and your thinking pays off in 20 mins, instead of 3 hours, like other heavy thinky-games.
Power-house in a small, great looking box.
Did I mention the price point? There’s no reason not to get this.